BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Rogers man accused of kidnapping and raping a child that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Hector Figueroa-Vasquez, 38, changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on Monday, months before he was set to go to trial.
Figueroa-Vasquez was charged with kidnapping, first-degree forgery and three counts of rape after he was arrested in October 2021.
According to court documents, Rogers police received information from a caller claiming that her niece, a 16-year-old girl, had been kidnapped after crossing the border and was being sexually abused.
Police were told that the girl was at a residence in Rogers and was being abused by a man named “Melvin” who would release her for $4,000.
After speaking to Figueroa-Vasquez and another person in the home, they denied knowing “Melvin” or the girl.
The girl was later found and denied the allegations but was taken into custody by the Arkansas Department of Human Services for being an unaccompanied juvenile.
Police later were contacted by the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline with information that the teen and another girl had been brought into the country illegally and were being sold for sex.
The victim was interviewed at the Child Safety Center in Springdale and described three separate instances of abuse. She said that “Melvin,” later identified as Figueroa-Vasquez, committed the acts in exchange for bringing her to the city.
The victim told the center that Figueroa-Vasquez paid someone to get her into the country and pretended to be her father to get past immigration officials.
After taking a plea agreement on Monday, Figueroa-Vasquez pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault and one count of forgery in the second degree.
“By this conviction and sentence, this defendant has been held accountable for his abuse of a sixteen-year-old girl,” Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith said. “Though no punishment will equal his crimes, a 40-year sentence delivers a measure of justice for what this victim endured.”
“Most of all, I am having the courage to come forward and I hope that this sentence will help her to move forward,” Smith added.